A similar ransomware scam took place in May of 2012 also using the name of the FBI to lure in victims. The latest inception of ransomware uses “FBI.gov” within the URL in attempt to make the warning appear legitimate.
The scam is complicated. The warning that appears accuses victims of violating various U.S. laws, then locks up the victims computer. It claims that to unlock the computer and avoid legal issues, a fee of $300 needs to be paid via a prepaid Visa card. But the scam doesn’t end there. If a victim realizes that there is a scam taking place and attempts to close the windows, more windows (iframes) pop up with the warning.
The actual FBI website reports the simplest way to remove the ransomware’s iframes is to “click n the Safari menu, choose the “Reset Safari” option, making sure all check boxes are selected.” It also suggests holding down the Shift key while relaunching Safari to prevent reopening windows and tabs from the previous session.
“Ransomware messages are an attempt to extort money. If you have received a ransomware message, do not follow payment instructions. Be sure to file a complaint at www.IC3.gov,” says the FBI’s warning report.
All email and internet users should be warned of ransomware scams although the current version is only targeting OS X Mac users. The FBI encourages anyone who has been a victim of ransomware, e-scams, and phishing to contact the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.